Friday, February 06, 2015

Among blacks the more religious, the more Democratic

In a series of posts he is constructing on contemporary support for Barack Obama using Reuters-Ipsos opinion polling data, Hail discovered an interesting positive correlation between religiosity among blacks and increased support for Obama.

It is conventionally assumed that piety, especially of the Christian variety, tends to accompany relatively greater support for Republicans in the US. And among whites that is clearly the case. On the contrary, however, the more religious blacks are, the more likely and more strongly they are to identify as Democrats. Conversely, the less religious they are, the more likely they are to buck the wider black trend and identify as Republican.

Hail picked up on it, and the GSS affirms his insight. The following table shows black partisan affiliation by frequency of worship attendance. The higher the score, the more Democratically-inclined the group (a score of 3 represents perfect independence; anything over three indicates a Democratic leaning and anything under 3 indicates a Republican leaning). For contemporary relevance only responses from the year 2000 onward are included:

Once a year at most4.47
Multiple times per year but no more than monthly 4.62
Multiple times per month but not weekly4.85
At least weekly 4.82

The differences are modest, on the order of one-quarter of one standard deviation difference between the Democratic affinities of the least frequent and most frequent black churchgoers. The more remarkable fact is that religiosity 'pushes' whites in one direction and blacks in another. This knowledge makes the Fringe Coalition look even more susceptible to fissures and fractures in the future that it did before.

GSS variables used: RACECEN1(2), YEAR(2000-2012)


Thursday said...

If we use Jon Haidt's theory, more religious people should also be more tribal, and the black political tribe is the Democrats.

silly girl said...


How the heck are you?

You deleted your blog and I rarely see your name anymore.

So, have you a new blog? If so, where? link?

Dan said...

The Democratic political machine in urban areas runs straight through black churches. Churches are the main organizing structure encompassing inner-city blacks.

If Republicans were anything like Democrats, they would attack the urban churches for their ties with the Democratic party. But Republicans would rather leave helpful social institutions in place than blow them up for political gain.

In the political game of chicken, it helps to be perfectly willing to turn important social institutions into smoldering piles of ash.

Saint Louis said...

I think Thursday and Dan are both right. For exampe, the sample size must be exceedingly small, but I'd be interested to see political affiliation among black Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox.

Audacious Epigone said...

Saint Louis,

Yes, I think you're correct and yes they are too small. There are only 96 eastern orthodox respondents in the entire GSS database (across all years).

countenance said...

Interesting to me is that non-religious blacks are significantly less Democrat enough than religious blacks such that a statistical correlation is even possible. As far as it seems to me, both religious blacks and non-religious blacks are 99.9% Democrat.

Anonymous said...

One measures religiosity by 1) behavior, or 2) beliefs. This poll measured one facet of behavior -- the frequency of churchgoing. To measure religious salience, you need more than one facet. I would have measured, as behavior, say, church going (actual, not reported), Bible reading, minutes of praying daily or less, evangelizing, etc.
For belief, I would have measured the standard tests for orthodoxy (to see if the belief is actually Christian, or something syncretistic).